The Relative Comment

soothing waves of relativity

ranking Harry Potter. because it is done, and must be placed into list form.

with 8 comments

Friend of the blog, LBJ, sent me a mad-scrabble series of messages yesterday. He had finally seen the final Harry Potter film, and was attempting to rank the series, film by film, best to worst. Since lists are fun, and Harry Potter is by far of more lasting importance and of cosmically greater interest than Rick Santorum, TRC is doubling up the morning blog post with a challenge: How do you rank the films of Harry Potter?

Making lists is hard work, if you take them even mildly seriously. Are we talking the best? Your favorite? The one you just can’t stand to the one you dislike the least? It all flies. Don’t want to put in all the work? Then simplify: What is the Best and what is the worst?

Here’s some lists for comparison or get you thinking about your own rankings.

Washington Post. LA Times. StLTodayNY Mag. There are plenty of these out there.

So without further ado, TRC’s list of the Harry Potter films, from Worst, to Best:
(I suppose I must give the warning to those who have not seen HP, there are plot details below).

8. Chamber of Secrets. Too long, too cumbersome. The winsome nature of the kids carries the film through the tedious direction of Christopher Columbus.

7. The Half Blood Prince. The funniest of the series when the film is funny, and the saddest of the films in regard to the heartbreak of adolescence. But it never pulls it all together to make sense of it’s story. The revelation of the Half Blood Prince always struck me as the least important final reveal in history. But Emma Watson and Rupert Grint shine, as does the final action sequence.

6. Sorcerer’s Stone. It is difficult to rank the first film so low. It really is a wonderful, magical movie that set the stage for everything that was to come. But who could have known the films would just keep getting better. The kids are adorable, Maggie Smith sets the bar for the wide range of classical Brits who would steal the show, and Snape, oh Snape, lays the foundation for a career defining role for Alan Rickman.

5. The Goblet of Fire. The kids grow up, and become teens, which is the best part of Goblet. It’s the first time things get real, with Cedric’s death and Voldie’s return, but Hermione scolding Ron and Harry for Ron’s behavior at the Ball is just as strong of an indicator for viewers that we are starting a new era in the series. Some of the best action in the series and also one of the most interesting plots when it comes down to it: Every action Harry takes is manipulated by the false-Moody.

4. Deathly Hallows, Part 2. The finale had to look great, and carry the emotional weight of 15 years of devoted fandom. It did, and more. The film depends on Harry and Voldie, and they live up to it. Radcliffe is surprisingly capable carrying the emotional resonance of the Forbidden Forest, and Ralph Fiennes performance as Voldemort was terrifically, delightfully evil (his Draco hug? awful and awesome). The dragon at Gringott’s was a remarkable CG creation, and the battle for Hogwarts didn’t disappoint. Not much to complain about, except maybe the Epilogue, but what are you going to do about that?

3. Order of the Phoenix. The trio of kids become Actors, and are aided along by the best performances of the ensemble adult cast that always shone throughout the series. Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge might be the best performance of all 8 films. Her evil is so well worn in her teeny little giggle, and her office of cat-plates might be the creepiest set of the series. She is so much fun to hate.

2. Prisoner of Azkaban. The most beautiful and unique of the films. Director Alfonso Cuaron brought a magic that rivals the magic of Hogwarts, and the film still stands out as something special. Watching it is a different experience than any of the others, and reminds the audience that, despite how good the series as a whole is, Alfonso Cuaron is on an entirely different level.

1. Deathly Hallows, Part 1. My favorite of the bunch. The most lovely, dramatic, and heartbreaking of the films. From the moment Hermione erases herself from her parent’s memories, to the animated sequence of Beadle the Bard, to the darkest scene in the entire series, Bellatrix torturing Hermione in the Malfoy Mansion, Deathly Hallows, Part 1 was the best movie of the bunch.  But not by much.

Ask again tomorrow, and who knows how it would look.


Written by Christopher ZF

August 19, 2011 at 11:39

Posted in harry potter, media

8 Responses

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  1. nice list. wrong, but nice. I can quibble with most, but I’m shocked with your #1 selection. DH1 was boring, plodding, and didn’t capture the feel of the book. It had good moments, but as a whole failed.

    redhead in rapid

    August 19, 2011 at 12:41

    • I will say it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. I wanted to just put DH as 1 movie, and put that number 1, but that would be cheating.
      Meanwhile, 3 out of the 4 lists I linked to had Goblet of Fire at 1, so, there’s plenty of room for disagreement.


      August 19, 2011 at 12:46

  2. Lyndon B. Johnson reads the relative comment?


    August 19, 2011 at 13:07

    • Of course. All the dead presidents do.


      August 19, 2011 at 13:10

  3. chamber of secrets is not too long nor at all cumbersome whatsoever. it’s a detective story really and has wonderful suspense throughout + the flying autonomous car + harry and ron as crabbe and goyle. Obviously it deserves at least forth place


    August 19, 2011 at 13:27

    • there is much to praise in Chamber of Secrets. Such as the basilisk fight and the mystery nature of the story, and getting to know Voldemort a little bit.

      But it certainly is too long and the direction is quite cumbersome.


      August 19, 2011 at 13:44

  4. I do understand however, that deciding which hp movie is the worst is a tricky decision. much like tryin to decide which of your 8 favorite horses you are going to have to eat.


    August 19, 2011 at 13:40

  5. @FR. Agree on chamber of secrets. It gets better the more I’ve watched it. @CZF I was being unduly snarky. I really can’t believe that people rate Goblet of Fire so high. For me it is one of the worst. Too much going on, no thread to connect it all. It had real nice scenes (anything with Moody, Voldy’s return).

    My favorite is definitely Prisoner of Azk. The best thing about the movies is when they bring out the ordinary joy of magic. Not awesomeness or power or even coolness, but simple joy. PofA does this in spades. Plus the movie is tight and so well put together. In fact it is better than the book.

    redhead in rapid

    August 19, 2011 at 14:13

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